Manifest Hope Spotlight: Michael Murphy

As many of you know, the OAR recently participated in the seminal Manifest Hope: DC show that took place during the Presidential Inauguration.  Now, we had an amazing time, the art was all top-notch, we met wonderful readers and artists alike, got to see De La Soul perform live (finally!) and all in all, had the time of our lives.  
However, I can confidently say, without a doubt, that the best part of our 10 day trip was meeting Michael Murphy in person, helping him out for a week, and making a friend for life. For the new readers out there, Michael Murphy is one of the most talented, promising and the least famous artist you haven’t heard of.
We first met Michael here at the Art Report back in September when a reader (I think it was Laz?) tipped us off to a sculpture he had found.  The sculpture (pictured below) comprises of 6,400 2″ nails, pounded into a white board.  The resulting shadows cast one the most creatively executed Obama portraits I’ve ever seen, and believe me, after 700 posts, I’ve seen a lot.

In an artistic movement so heavily inundated with design work, prints and street art, Murphy’s nail portrait came as a breath of fresh air, and needless to say, we were psyched.  Soon thereafter, Michael released another piece, this time creating an equally impressive portrait entirely out of high tension wire.  The wire piece was followed by a charcoal, pastel and chalk drawing, which preceded a nine layer transparency installation, an ObamaXHendrix rotoscopic mashup video and finally, one of my favorite pieces he’s done, a cast resin shadow portrait.  In short, every time we the dude blows our mind and we throw up our hands in celebration of the pinnacle he cannot possibly, and should not possibly top, he just goes out and outdoes himself one more time.

So, back to the subject at hand… Manifest Hope: DC. 
Michael and I had been talking for a couple weeks prior to the event and he eventually convinced me that not only should I come, but I should arrive early, throw caution to the wind, and not worry about exactly where I’ll be sleeping or anything frivolous like that.  Just come down and have a good time.
So, trusting entirely in a person I’d never actually met before, I bought my ticket and flew to DC a couple days later.
By the time I arrived, Michael had already decided to set up a little work area:

He and Brinsley (more on him later) had already constructed a massive oil rig and were busy at work for their next project, the Red Cross.

A few trips to Home Depot later (and a newly purchased coffee maker), Michael and Brinsley began to make, by hand, health care related wooden cut outs, even going as far as creating portraits of passerbys:

The following day a massive group of volunteers, students and faculty arrived from Georgia to help Michael in his projects, too many to mention or show, but seriously, thank you all.

As the cut outs were being painted and were drying, Michael began to construct what would eventually become the Red Cross.

With the Red Cross completed and only a couple more days till the show, Michael began finishing up a second project, his Worker’s Rights piece, well into the night.

Now before I forget to mention, during all this Michael and Co. were also experimenting with a resin cast shadow portrait..

Which of course, like all the other projects Michael and his crew began and saw through till completion in just a few days, wound up perfect…

For more information on Michael, to view his entire portfolio of Obama and Non-Obama works, or to inquire on purchasing a piece or commissions, please visit his website:


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